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Prisons serve several functions, but they are not intended to be safe havens for paedophiles operating within the prison system; rather, they are correctional institutions designed to punish sex offenders who have committed crimes, among other reasons.


Punishment serves numerous purposes:

  • Reformative - attempting to convert an offender into a non-offender
  • Retributive - to impose the type of treatment that society requires in order to meet the needs of the victims of the crime committed, for example, recompense.
  • Punitive - to impose a suitable penalty on an individual in order to demonstrate society's disapproval of the crime committed.

Sexual or physical abuse of a prisoner clearly does not fit into any of the foregoing categories.


When prisons, like any other institution meant to house humans, become overcrowded, the pressures on prison employees increase. When capacity becomes overpopulation, the ratio of supervisors to those being supervised becomes disproportionate, resulting in occurrences that could have been avoided.


Because of congestion, prisoners are frequently forced to share cells with known sex offenders and are advised not to share with other convicts.

In such cases, if a rape or sexual assault occurs, the prison might be held responsible for the incident. As a result, an investigation and criminal prosecution are required. To minimise retaliation attacks from those involved, the prisoner should be transported to a separate prison while the investigation is underway.

There have been several high-profile incidents of sexually abusive prison employees, such as at Medomsley Correctional Centre, where a number of sex offenders are believed to have infiltrated the prison staff and assaulted detainees for years.


Within prisons, there are norms and legislation that govern how convicts should be treated and how prisons should be operated. Prisons are also visited on a regular basis. Any issue can be brought to the Governor's attention.

Prisons are yet another example of a cloistered environment in which individuals are imprisoned in conditions that clearly limit and constrict their liberty. Prisoners are, by definition, denied certain privileges as punishment for their crimes. As a result, because the atmosphere is separate and disconnected from day-to-day living, the chance for abuse arises. Because people are imprisoned in close quarters, and the police are at arm's length from the detainees, the chance for abuse will develop.


Although there are minors in specific young offenders institutes, the vast majority of inmates are over the age of 18. As a result, abuse must be performed without the victim's consent, whereas any type of sexual or physical assault on a minor, with or without their consent, is criminal. There are special legal laws regarding consent, but in general, any sexual action with a minor is considered to be done without consent.

For example, abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre was so serious in the past that the Independent Commission into Child Sexual Abuse is investigating the links between the facility, the administrative system, and abuse in jail.

Prisoner abuse can be classified as sexual, physical, emotional, or racial.

Places Where Institutional Abuse Can Happen:


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